Have you heard of spear phishing? Although less common than other cyber threats, the antivirus software providers are hard at work at making sure you are protected against the specific vulnerabilities that spear phishing threats target.Phishing attempts are nothing new; they involve the attempt to get hold of your sensitive personal information and are mostly carried by e-mail. A typical phishing attempt will involve scammers presenting themselves as trustworthy services you may use, prompting you to enter your login details or initiating the transfer of a hazardous file to your computer. These will then be used to access your account or spy on your infected device. Top antivirus programs, both for Windows and Mac, attempt to thwart these threats, although a well-designed phishing attempt may be hard to detect. While normal phishing attempts are relatively common, spear phishing are a different beast entirely.
Spear Phishing = Targeted Attack
Phishing often involves sending out fake login request en masse, counting on the fact that usually someone falls for the deception. However, spear phishing involves targeting specific people or groups, specifically designed to appear as if they’ve been sent from a trusted source such as a friend, co-worker or family member. They may even include a message that has specifically designed to fool you into compliance. A recent survey has shown that around 90% of all targeted hacking attempts fall into the phishing or spear phishing criteria, attesting to the effectiveness of this method.
Protect Yourself from Spear Phishing
Phishing attempts usually occur within a network of contacts, such as a workplace. Once contact information has been obtained, a hacker will attempt to design a specific message that is more likely to fool you. Due to the nature of this situation, you must work hand-in-hand with your antivirus software in order to guarantee the highest level of protection.On their surface, phishing attempts are hard for an antivirus to detect, unless the e-mail itself contains a malicious file. In this case, your antivirus will mostly likely thwart the attempt upon delivery of the message. In many other cases, the message will be identified as deceptive due to differences in the design of the e-mail when compared to the legitimate sender. However, because spear Phishing is usually very specific, antivirus software may not be enough to detect it. That’s why it is highly recommended to avoid entering any login details within an e-mail message. If the message directs you to a login page, it is recommended that you check the address bar within your browser to ensure that the URL indeed matches the service in question.